Via the City of West Palm Beach
This past October, the City of West Palm Beach and the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency in partnership with the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority embarked on a tactical urbanism pilot project along Flagler Drive. The Flagler Shore: From Pavement to People project temporarily reduced Flagler Drive between Lakeview Ave. and Banyan Blvd. to two lanes in order to reclaim 63,000 sq. ft. of additional public space for pedestrians, bicyclists, merchants and additional programming on the West Palm Beach waterfront. The city and agencies used this short-term, low-cost, and scalable intervention to catalyze long-term change along the West Palm Beach waterfront, in order to make the waterfront a more active and vibrant public space for both residents and visitors.
Given the findings of recent studies by the Gehl Institute, the Shore to Core design contest with the Van Alen Institute, and the walkability study by Jeff Speck, along with traffic studies that indicate use of Flagler Drive is well under the road’s traffic threshold, the project was the first step to implement some of the expert recommendations. For the duration of the project (October 7, 2017 – March 1, 2018), data is being collected in six key areas to understand how the space is being used and effects of the space being repurposed including activation participation, safety, automobile counts, bicycle counts, pedestrian counts and people surveys.
[The attached data collection report is a preliminary summary. More data is being collected throughout the duration of the project.]
A key data finding, contrary to initial project concerns, has shown no traffic impact or safety issues. The automobile counts along Flagler Drive have decreased since the project started and compared to average daily rates five years ago (6,404 in October 2017 compared to 8,438 in September 2017 and 10,560 in 2012). Additionally, no crashes have been reported during the project to date.
In addition to the ongoing data collection at the project site and public feedback on the city’s website, the city will hold a Community Think Tank on Dec. 16 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM along Flagler Shore (in the public space outside of E.R. Bradley’s Saloon at the intersection of Clematis Street and Flagler Drive). This is an opportunity for members of the public to provide ideas for what they would like to see that would attract people to the waterfront. There will be a series of interactive exchange booths where participants can collaborate with the hosts and discuss how to make the waterfront more vibrant. The preliminary data will also be shared and discussed with community members at the meeting.
“Since we first launched this project, Flagler Shore has had people talking about the future of their waterfront and public spaces where they want to gather, and that is exactly what we want” said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. “We are trying to improve the quality of life in West Palm Beach and are listening to the needs and wishes of our residents and downtown businesses. This pilot project is intended to give space back to the public, and we believe it can be successful thanks to the community’s input.”
The Flagler Shore project allows the city to examine the viability of expert recommendations using low-cost resources to experiment with and gather input on potential street design changes, without spending millions of dollars. The data and community feedback gathered will ultimately help determine any permanent redesign of the waterfront in the future. The cost of the temporary pilot project is estimated at $221,137, a fraction of the funds for a complete design renovation project. Just over half of the total costs ($114,014) were allocated for the Flagler Drive lane reduction and Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) plan.
“Many cities in the U.S. and around the world are using these types of flexible and short-term projects to advance long-term goals related to street safety, public space, and more,” said Chris Roog, West Palm Beach Director of Economic Development. “We are confident that this project will support the expert recommendations while gathering important information and community feedback.”
Key Features about the Flagler Shore: From Pavement to People Project:
- Flagler Shore is .6 miles along Flagler Drive stretching from Lake Ave. to Banyan Blvd.
- Temporary lane reductions and expansion of waterfront public space for five months, from Oct. 7, 2017 through Mar. 1, 2018
- This is the first step in implementing/analyzing concepts and expert recommendations from recent City studies.
- Closing two east lanes of Flagler Drive from Lake Ave. to Banyan Blvd. to reclaim and repurpose public space along the Waterfront
- Making the two west lanes of Flagler Drive from Lake Ave. to Banyan Blvd. into two-way conditions with restriped double-yellow lines
- Intersections along Flagler Drive will include large decorative potted planters with safety measures to redirect traffic and directional signs.
- Closed eastern lanes of Flagler Drive will reclaim 63,000 sq. ft. of public space along the waterfront.
- Reclaimed public space will be repurposed to allow for more pedestrians, bicyclists, merchants, and additional programming.
- New features to be included along the expanded Waterfront include additional seating, public art, vendors, new events, wellness activities and more.
- City will assess new design by collecting data and public feedback to make determinations about the future of the West Palm Beach waterfront.
To find out more about the city’s Flagler Shore project, to find the latest updates and activities, or to submit questions/comments, please call (561) 822-2222 or visit www.wpb.org/flaglershore. The city encourages public feedback on the new design and new activities via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.